Pottawatomie County Commissioners heard Monday from Wamego City Manager Stacie Eichem regarding the process of the Sheriff’s Office transitioning 911 dispatch service from the Wamego Police Department.
During the June 28 meeting, county commissioner Greg Riat proposed the city work a cost share agreement with the county to transition those services, with $120,000 to be paid out in 2022 and $60,000 in 2023. Eichem told commissioners Monday that isn’t feasible with the police department’s current budget, which is $200,000 annually.
The move essentially brings all dispatchers under one umbrella in the county. The county began taking overnight calls from Wamego in mid to late May after an employee resigned. Eichem says all cell phone calls were already routed to the county prior to the transition. Calls from land line phones are now routed to whoever is covering the city.
Commissioners favor the transition, despite the need to hire three additional dispatchers to handle other administrative calls that Wamego currently handles. Sheriff Shane Jager says he understands concerns raised by commissioner Pat Weixelman, who said Monday he believed the county would be going overboard by hiring three new dispatchers.
Jager says the county would be handling all emergency medical dispatch, in addition to paging out law enforcement and fire calls, which requires two dispatchers on at all times.
The transition is expected to take well into next year. The fiscal impact remains an uncertainty, due to staffing and technological needs that may be required. The two sides are continuing to work through that process.
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